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Ms. Sarah Dawson (Trainer) Prohibited Substance Referral – Dundalk Barrier Trials 13th September 2021

The Referrals Committee, Mr. Peter M. Allen (in the chair), Mr. Anthony Byrne, and Mr. Laurence McFerran convened in the Offices of the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board on Wednesday, 17th August 2022 to consider whether or not Ms. Sarah Dawson (Trainer) was in breach of any rules as a result of a report received from LGC Laboratories, Newmarket, England. 

The report received on 6th October 2021 stated the blood samples taken from both Carla’s Kodi Bear and La Valeureuse following their running in Barrier Trials on 13th September, were confirmed by LGC Laboratories to both contain omeprazole. Under Rule 20(v) and Regulation 14 of the Rules of Racing and Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Rules omeprazole is a prohibited substance and as per the terms and conditions of Barrier Trials, they are held under the Rules of Racing.

The option of ‘B’ sample analysis was declined by Ms. Dawson, who in doing so accepted the results of the analysis of the ‘A’ sample.

Evidence was heard from Ms. Dawson and Dr. Lynn Hillyer, Head of Anti-Doping and Chief Veterinary Officer.

In her evidence, Dr. Hillyer explained that omeprazole is a proton pump inhibitor commonly used in the treatment and prophylaxis of gastric ulceration, usually as an oral medication. There are several products licensed for use in the horse in Ireland. Omeprazole is a prohibited substance on race day because it has an effect on a body system, but it is controlled via an International Screening Limit of 1 ng/ml linked with a Detection Time in order that only samples containing clinically significant concentrations of the medication are returned as adverse findings. A published detection time of 48 hours for omeprazole when it is administered as ‘Omeprazole Gastrogard 37% Oral Paste Merial 1mg/kg for 28 days’, once daily was published in 2019.

The Medicines Register pages for La Valeureuse contained an entry for Peptizole from the 18th August 2021 recorded as administrated orally at a dose for 400kg with a withdrawal time of 72 hours under the direction of veterinary surgeon Inge d’Haese. Carla’s Kodi Bear is documented with a similar entry, ‘from 18th August 2021 ongoing’.

During investigation of this post-race finding, a likely source for the post-race adverse analytical findings was identified in that both fillies were being administered a product containing omeprazole at the time of the Barrier Trials. As a result, it was the case that Ms. Dawson did not take all reasonable precaution as set out in Rule 96(a) to avoid this adverse analytical finding as an insufficient withdrawal period was observed.  Detection Time advice for this substance has been available since 2019 and sources of information publicised by the IHRB.

In her evidence, Ms. Dawson explained that she her own gallop is a very small gallop and that she needs to travel her horses more often than most trainers to use larger facilities. She suggested that this is may be one reason many of her horses appear to suffer from ulcers. She confirmed that both Carla’s Kodi Bear and La Valeureuse were both being administered with Peptizole for their ulcers and that she observed a 72-hour withdrawal time for their races, but it hadn’t registered with her to be more cautious ahead of the Barrier Trials and accepted that she was in breach of the terms of conditions of the Barrier Trials.

Having considered the evidence, Chairman of the Referrals Committee Mr. Allen read out the following decision on behalf of the committee.

“During this hearing there has been some discussion about the actual substance itself and whether or not it is performing enhancing or not, but it is, as per our Regulations, above the threshold of a prohibited substance and we will deal with it in that manner. Therefore, we find Ms. Dawson in breach of Rule 96(a) in respect of Carla’s Kodi Bear and also in respect of La Valeureuse. While we do appreciate the circumstances involved and that it was a Barrier Trial, but it has been accepted by all persons involved in Barrer Trials that they will be subject to the Rules of Racing in relation to the testing of horses. In this instance we will impose a fine of €2,000 in total which is €1,000 for each horse on this occasion.”

The case was presented by Ms. Cliodhna Guy, IHRB Head of Licensing, Legal & Compliance.

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